The phosphonylmethoxyalkyl derivatives HPMPA [(S)-9-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)adenine], HPMPC [(S)-1-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)cytosine] and PMEA [9-(2-phosphonylmethoxyethyl)adenine] were evaluated as 0.2% eyedrops for their efficacy in the treatment of experimental herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) keratitis in the rabbit model. BVDU 0.2% eyedrops were used as the reference treatment. HPMPA, HPMPC, PMEA and BVDU eyedrops showed a rapid and highly significant healing effect (P less than 0.005) on keratitis caused by TK+ HSV-1 (McIntyre strain) when compared with placebo eyedrops, whereas BVDU treatment did not affect the course of TK- HSV-1 (VMW-1837) keratitis. HPMPA and HPMPC treatment again caused a highly significant healing (P less than 0.005, compared with placebo eyedrops). Although PMEA eyedrops were less effective than HPMPA or HPMPC eyedrops, the effect of PMEA eyedrops was significantly (P less than 0.05) different from the effect of either BVDU or placebo eyedrops.